Alvinston remembers Leitch’s ‘community spirit’

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Members of Ruth Leitch’s family, daughter Dawn McNally, and great grandchildren, Ryker Wagner, 8, and Jaylin, 11, tried out the bench immediately after the dedication ceremony. Jaylin officially cut the ribbon in the celebration honouring her late great grandmother on her 90th birthday. Blake Ellis/Local Journalism initiative photo

Blake Ellis/Local Journalism Initiative

The Alvinston Public Library was crowded, but that was how the late Ruth Leitch always wanted it.

It would have been Leitch’s 90th birthday May 30 and the community came out to celebrate, by not only having a piece of cake in her honour, but to dedicate a bench to the right of the front door, to the woman who gave so much to her community.

Former Brooke-Alvinston Mayor Don McGugan called her “a community spirited individual.”

Leitch was a reporter, and worked as a librarian at the Alvinston Public Library for 32 years.

Leitch wore many hats in the community. She was a community historian, an avid photographer which, late in life she had made into a book, and she loved the arts. She was one of the founders of the Alvinston Arts and Activities group. She was also a lay preacher in her church.

But it was at the library that most people encountered Leitch.
Mary Jo Bryce, who took over for Leitch at the library when she retired, remembers when Leitch told her about her pending retirement and asked if she would like the job.

When Bryce showed some doubt on whether she could fill her shoes, Leitch had a retort. “I didn’t ask you if you could do it,” recounts Bryce. “I asked you if you wanted it.”

Leitch was involved in the design of the library when it was originally built, mimicking a library she saw in Arizona. “Mom loved the library,” said her daughter Dawn McNally. She called on the community to “always keep this library alive.”

The Arts and Activity Group spearheaded the drive to raise money for a bench in Leitch’s honour. Many of her friends contributed and McNally and Leitch’s great grandchildren helped unveil the bench which will sit at the entrance of the library, to the right of the front door.

“It is gorgeous, it is perfect,” McNally said.

There was a time for friends to pay tribute; that’s when former mayor talked about how big a role Leitch played in Alvinston. McGugan called her a confidant and a friend, who helped him make his first flyer when he first ran for municipal politics in 1997.

“If there were more Ruth Leitch’s, there would be less problems in this world,” said McGugan.